Putin quotes Jesus to justify invasion of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin Getty Images

During a pro-war rally in Moscow on Friday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked the words of Jesus Christ in order to justify his invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow police said more than 200,000 people attended the rally, Al Jazeera reported. Polling shows that a majority of Russians support the war in Ukraine, which has already left numerous Ukrainian civilians displaced, injured, and dead.

Speaking to the crowd in a turtleneck and down winter coat, Putin said he ordered the invasion "to get people out of their misery, out of this genocide, that is the main reason, the motive and purpose of the military operation that we began in Donbas and Ukraine," according to The Washington Post. Russia has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian government of committing genocide in separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.

"And this is where the words from the Scriptures come to my mind: 'There is no greater love than if someone gives his soul for his friends,'" Putin continued, paraphrasing John 15:13.

Both the Post and ABC News translate the Russian word душу (dushu) as "soul," but most English translations of the passage use "life." The verse is part of a long discourse Jesus delivered to his disciples as they traveled to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he was arrested and taken to be crucified after ordering Simon Peter not to use force to defend him.

Putin identifies as a Russian Orthodox Christian but has expressed discomfort with speaking publicly about his faith.

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Putin quotes Jesus to justify invasion of Ukraine